For Immediate Release - Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence - August 22, 2013 - Contact: Media [at] BradyNetwork [dot] org
City Recognizes Right To Not Own Guns, Agrees To Not Enforce Ordinance
WASHINGTON, DC –The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the City of Nelson, Georgia have agreed to settle the Brady Center’s lawsuit against the City’s mandatory gun ownership ordinance. Under the settlement, which the City Council unanimously approved at its Tuesday meeting, the City will amend the ordinance to make clear that the Constitution protects the individual right to maintain a gun-free home. The amended statute will say that the gun ownership mandate cannot be enforced and that there will be no penalties for non-compliance.
The ordinance as originally enacted on April 1, 2013 required all heads of households in Nelson, with certain exceptions, to own a working firearm and ammunition. The Brady Center brought suit against the City on May 16, 2013 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, arguing that the ordinance violated the First, Second, and Fourteenth Amendments. The suit was filed on behalf of the membership of the Brady Center who faced a $1,000 fine for non-compliance with the city rule. In the settlement agreement, the City accepted the Brady Center’s position that the United States Constitution protects the rights of Americans who choose to keep their homes free of firearms.
“The Constitution protects not just the right to bear arms, but the right not to bear arms,” said Jonathan Lowy, Director of the Legal Action Project at the Brady Center. “The Brady Center brought this lawsuit to establish that the Constitution protects the rights of gun owners and non-gun owners alike, and all of us must be respectful of each other’s rights. We are pleased that as a result of our lawsuit the City of Nelson has recognized that the Second Amendment protects the rights of the hundreds of millions of Americans who believe that the best way to keep themselves and their families safe is by keeping guns out of their homes.”
Lamar Kellett, a Nelson resident and Brady Center member who opposed the ordinance, also welcomed the City’s decision, saying “I am glad an acceptable solution has been reached and feel that those Nelson residents that wish to keep home protection a private matter will be pleased with this outcome.”
“Today’s agreement sends a message to residents of communities across the country that their Constitutional liberties will be protected: they do not need to worry that their local government will invade their privacy or their pocketbooks by forcing them to buy guns,” said Rukesh Korde of Covington & Burling LLP, lead counsel for the Brady Center.
The Nelson City Council voted 5-0 on Tuesday, August 20, 2013 to accept the settlement terms and add a clause to the Family Protection Ordinance, codified at Section 38-6, Chapter 38, Article I of the Code of the City of Nelson. The amendment will say that the existing terms of ordinance “are not enforceable and shall never be enforced and no disability, penalty or adverse consequence shall attach to any violation thereof” because “the Constitution protects the rights of Americans to choose not to own or maintain a gun in their homes.” The suspension of the mandatory gun ownership requirement will take effect immediately upon the signing of the settlement agreement by Nelson Mayor Jonathan Bishop.
Rukesh Korde of Covington & Burling LLP in Washington, D.C. was lead counsel for the Brady Center in the suit, and was assisted by Jonathan Wakely and Daniel Valencia of Covington; Peter Canfield of Dow Lohnes PLLC in Atlanta, Georgia; and Elizabeth Burke and Jonathan Lowy of the Brady Center.
Click here to read the settlement agreement executed by the Brady Center and the Nelson City Council.
The mission of the Brady organization is to create a safer America for all of us that will lead to the dramatic reduction in gun deaths and injuries that we all seek.